Human Rights abuse in itty-bitty Santa Cruz [link]
"Targeting the Homeless as a "Prosperity Initiative" in Santa Cruz"
2014-02-08 by Robert Norse of Santa Cruz: Santa
Cruz's Downtown Association has long floated a series of failed bigoted
measures to starve out or drive away peaceful panhandlers and unhoused
"loiterers" ranging from "Give a Hand Not a Handout" posters in 1989 to
the recent red "Imagine" meters--which discourage giving to the visibly
needy in favor of those arranging to remove them from sight. In 1994
then Councilmember, now Supervisor, Neal Coonerty pushed for the Sitting
Ban, Tabling Ban, Spare-changing Ban, and Performing Ban
ordinances--which banned these activities in most times and places on
Pacific Avenue--engineering a huge commercial takeover of what once been
a shared space. (Even a friendly space before the 1989 earthquake
where there were dozens of places to sit on the waist-high brick
planters that lined Pacific).
Subsequent laws and
police practices have intensified the "no go" zones while attacking
homeless camps directly through "clean 'em out" sweeps that simply drive
homeless people deeper into the greenbelt or the residential
neighborhoods (and also accomplishing its purpose of driving someout of
town in despair or disgust. In effect these measures are a massive
shameful attack on what is fundamentally a disabled population--though
as of yet there has been no legal response to what is probably illegal
under federal disability law.
More recently HUFF has
received reports of cafe owners not only driving homeless people out
and excluding them for "having backpacks" (Coffee Roasting Company,
Starbucks, Peet's, Abbey Cafe) but actually threatening them on
adjacent sidewalk (Peet's, Cafe Pergolesi).
discussing these issues in the tiny amount of time allowed the public at
the twice-monthly City Council meetings under Mayor "Rattlesnake"
Robinson (who gives little warning) faces increased threat with her
upcoming expansion of "decorum" rules this Tuesday ( shortly after 2:30
PM February 11). The "rules" formally eliminate the Oral Communications
period historically held at 7 PM in the evening (when it was actually
available for most workers--rather than at its current 5 PM "doghouse"
time--when most of the audience has either left or not arrived). The
highly-restrictive Consent Agenda rules have been set in cement
disallowing members of the public the opportunity to speak on the items
individually. A provision attacking independent journalists reads "No
audio/visual recording devices may be left unattended at the speaker’s
lectern or elsewhere in the Council Chambers."
The provision that prompted an 11-year court battle and cost the City
$125,000+ in the mock-Nazi salute case has been made worse instead of
corrected. It now reads: " ... Any person making personal, impertinent,
or slanderous remarks, or becoming boisterous or otherwise disrupting
the Council meeting shall be barred by the presiding officer from
further attendance at said meeting unless permission for continued
attendance is granted by a majority vote of the Council... Every member
of the public and every Councilmember desiring to speak shall address
the presiding officer, and upon recognition by the presiding officer,
shall confine comments to the question under debate, avoiding all
indecorous language and references to personalities ... Upon
instructions of the presiding officer it shall be the duty of the
sergeant-at-arms or any police officer present to eject from the Council
Chambers any person in the audience who uses boisterous or profane
language, or language tending to bring the Council or any Councilmember
A new sentence has been
added: "Persons who disrupt a Council meeting while in session are
subject to arrest and prosecution." In other words, rein in your
criticism of the Council, the cops, and bigots in the community who are
harassing homeless people either under color of law or otherwise. Don't
name names, use tame language, make sure what you're saying is
decorous, even if the abusive behavior you're describing (stealing
homeless property, arresting people for sleeping or sitting) is not.